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'No women in North Korea'

Posted March. 06, 2017 07:09,   

Updated March. 06, 2017 07:14


A glimpse on the ancient tomb murals of the Goguryeo Kingdom shows women out on the streets on wagons or dancing with men. History also tells that Goguryeo women actually played as an important role in the society without any suppression or discrimination both in personal and public life, be it marriage, property, or inheritance.

Modern Korean women have lost the traditional heritage, however. According to a February survey of Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) member nations, Korea ranked 32nd among a total of 33 nations in terms of female economic activities, and recorded the highest in wage gap between men and women at 36 percent. While there is a long way to go, Korea has seen its first female president since the establishment of a constitutional government, and glass ceilings are being teared down in various sectors. Still, North Korea shows more issues, despite its so-called grandstanding "women’s liberation" from the very beginning of the separation.

It is no news that human rights are infringed in the North, but suppression is more severe and cruel to North Korean women. The recently broadcasted documentary "Now We Meet Again" at Channel A tore the hearts of many with numerous tragedies. Ms. Park Geum-ok who had to spend her time in a prison camp in North Korea from the age of one to 24 was nearly beaten to death with saw, hammer, and axe as a punishment for making a mistake while working inside the mines. She was also beaten by men with baseball bats when her prison break came to a failure. There was another young breast-feeding mother who could no longer endure the pain and ate a poisonous mushroom which also led to the death of her infant. Moreover, North Korean female soldiers who comprise around 30 percent of the total army are literally exposed to sexual harassment and assaults. When the innocent victims are found to be pregnant, they have to bear forced abortion and dishonorable discharge.

"No women in North Korea." This is a meaningful title of a talk show to be held at Seoul History Museum on Wednesday by the humanitarian watchdog Human Asia and a group of North Korean defected women to commemorate the International Women's Day. The enactment of Act on Equal Rights of Men and Women by Pyongyang in 1946 was by no means a strategic move to treat women "fairly" in an aim to exploit public labor and downgraded women as sex toys. Still, South Korea also turned blind eye to North Korean women and is not free from criticism as well. While the North Korean Human Rights Act came into effect last September, no human rights foundations were launched as of this moment. Female activists extremely sensitive to "misogynistic issues" are also not raising their voices when it comes to North Korean women's issues. It seems that the tears of these marginalized women will not dry in the nearest future.